tv Dateline NBC NBC January 22, 2016 8:00pm-10:00pm CST
you're sitting there and you're thinking, i'm going be sick." i knew without a doubt he didn't do this. and if we didn't fight, he could be sitting in there for 30 years. >> a story with four yearsf twists -- >> after "dateline" airerewe had so many people step forward. >> -- takes a wild, hairpin turn. it all began the night he discovered his wife dead. >> oh my god, no! >> cops found blood on his slippers, and said he failed a polygraph. >> the fact of the matter is you stabbed betsy. >> thing was, this husband had an alibi, thanks to the buddies he met every tuesday for "game night." >> we knew that he could not have committed this crime. a man cannot be in two places at the same time. >> a high-profile trial. a speedy verdict. >> i was stunned. >> so why is this case getting an almost-unprecedented second
this doesn't happen, right? >> it's incredibly rare. >> and is anyone prepared for this? >> did she say, "i have a bombshell"? >> she did. >> from tales of a secret love -- >> she revealed that she and betsy had had an intimate relationship. >> -- to a tell-tale clue, hidden on a hard drive. >> it is a smoking gun. >> it's finally time for the truth. >> that's a scary moment. >> it was a horrible moment. >> i'm lester holt, and this is "dateline." here's keith morrison with "return to game night." >> reporter: they were so sure of themselves as they campaigned for his freedom. he loved her too much more that, they said. and anyway, he was with us, they said. could never have done those dreadful things, they said. here on that frigid night in the
womamainside stopped feeling the cold, or anything else. when the husband returned from what he'd later say was his ironclad alibi, and called 911. 9:40pm, december 27th, 2011. >> what is the location of your emergency? [ crying ] >> okay. i need you to take a couple deep breaths so i can see what's going on. >> i just got home from a friend's house and -- and my wife -- my wife. >> reporter: the man was hysterical. a real emotion, most who heard it had come to believe. but now, a question -- was it? >> god. >> what is her name? >> her name is betsy. >> betsy? >> yes. >> reporter: betsy faria. and the crying you can hear is r husband, russell. >> oh, my god. no. >> russell -- - e -- do you think that she's b bond help right now? >> i think she's dead.
>> o my god. she's gone. >> reporter: betsy faria was $% dead and ge at 42. and yet early death for betsy, as you will hear, was not a surprise. that had been preordained, sad to say. no, it was how it happened, why it happened, and all that's happened since in a small town near st. louis, missouri. was russell faria innocent, as his friends and family and army of supporters insisted? or guilty as sin, as both the e state and d tsy's family were soso sure? and then just months ago, a fresh investigation revealed startling new allegations of sex, secrets, and lies, and astonishing recovered memories. as you'll see tonight, the search for justice is a winding
unexpected detours. but first you need to know about betsy faria. she was one of four girls in her family. mary rodgers and julie swaney were older sisters. >> betsy was the most outgoing and the most social. >> reporter: kinda gregarious, right? >> gregarious is a great word for her. very colorful, very lively. she was an individual. you couldn't tell her no. she did what she wanted to do. and she started deejaying at the age of -- i think she was 18, maybe even younger than that. >> reporter: wow. >> and she could start up a party. >> she was in her element when she was out there. she could get anybody on the dance floor, whether they wanted to or not. >> reporter: betsy was a single mother of two daughters, leah and mariah, when she met russ, d he seemed just about perfect for her. funny, outgoing, big heart, said russ's cousin, mary anderson. >> he's a happy person. he was a jokester. >> reporter: yeah. >> you -- you never seen himim without him laughing.
was the perfect woman for him. >> she encouraged me to go back to school l d get my degree, which led toto better job, more money, things like that. >> reporter: yeah. >> which i probably wouldn't have done had she not come along. >> reporter: when russ met betsy, her daughters were very yoyog, mariah still a titi girl. >> we really created a big bond, you know. and -- and leah, you know, bonded with me as well. >> reporter: betsy and russ got married in january 2000. and, like many couples, they had good times and then less good times. for more than a year, they actually lived apart. >> we argued a lot.. you know, it's always darkest before the dawn, they say. >> reporter: and then betsy told him she'd found a church that meant a lot totoer. maybe he'd like to come. >> the first week we went there, they were starting a series on marriage. it was kind of -- kind of like an omen. >> reporter: and that, said russ, is when their marriage got betttt again. >> you know, we kinda re-fell in love with one another.
or not. betsy found out she had breast cancer. >> christmas of 2009, she told us that she thought she had it and it was diagnosed in january 2010. that's when she had her mastectomy. >> we went through a lot of -- lot of crying, lot of heartache, and just lot of hard time. but you know we kept our faith and we kept praying. >> and she handled it with such grace. she just amazed the -- the millions of people that she knows. she was ininlved in tennis. she juststontinued playing tennis. you'd never know she was going through chemo. >> reporter: and maybe that helped her beat it. in the winter of 2011, betsy's doctor told her the cancer was in remission. so she and russ decided to celebrate. they organized a caribbean cruise, invited their friends
and then -- >> she thinks i'm free and clear and then this bomb just dropped >> reporter: the cancer was back, had spread to her liver. it was too far in her liver that they couldn't take it out. >> reporter: she had, with luck, three to five years, perhaps less. so what did russ and betsy do? they went on that cruise anyway. took their whole gang with them. betsy got to swim with the dolphins -- a dream she'd had for years. >> just seeing how happy she was made me happy. >> she told everybody that this was a second honmoon for them. she said it was the best thing that happened. they had the best t x that they could ever have while they were on this cruise. >> reporter: but then a few weeks later, betsy was dead. but it certainly wasn't the cancer that killed her. >> how did betsy die? the answer to that wasn't clear at all. her husband, who called 911,ad
>> my wife killed herself! >> reporter: but investigators had another. >> it's not typical for someone who's going to commit suicide to do it the way she done it and that's what concerns us. even "turkey jerks." [turkey] gobble. [butcher] i'm sorry! (burke) covered march fourth,2014. talk to farmers. we've seen almost everything, so wknow how to cover almost anything. we are farmrms. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum winter storm jonas promises to be the biggest of the decade. with total accumulation of up to three feet, roads will be shut down indefinitely, and schools are closed. campbell's soups go great with a cold, and a nice red.
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>> before all the events which have so recently upended our story, was russ faria's hysterical call to 911 the night of december 27th, 2011, in which he uttered four little words that were going to become very important indeed. >y wife killed herself. >> reporter: my wife killed herself. >> ok. russell, i need you to calm down, honey. ok? i need you to calm down and take a couple deep breaths. we're going to get somebody on the way there, okay? >> reportete there was the town of troy, about an hour from st. louis. between his sobs, russ told the operator he'd returned home from a night out with friends to find his wife, betsy, dead on the living room floor. and, he said, it looked like she'd committed suicide. >> what, what did she do? do you know? >> she's got a knife in her
and she sliced her arms. >> reporter: now, much later, russ told us something clicked when he saw her lying there. >> well, she had talked about it years before and actually tried it once or twice. >> and when you came in, what do yoyo-- >> i s s slashes on her arms, you know, and that was the firir thing that just registered in my mind. >> reporter: early next morning, betsy's mother, janet meyer, got a knock on the door. officersrstanding there on herer doorstep. >> one of them just looked right at me and said, "betsy's dead." and i said, "well, how could she be dead?" she was just here last night. >> officers also went to betsy's sister julie's house. >> they said it was a possible suicide. you know, i looked at her and gave her this look like, i don't think that sounds right. >> reporter: thing is by the time police offered that suicide
already knew the death of betsy faria was no suicide. not even possible. first responders could tell right away -- and the medical examiner's office found betsy's body had been pierced many, many times -- including wounds most likely inflicted after she was already dead. hardly surprising g en, that police might be caststg around for suspects. or, that russ, the husband, the man who supposedly discovered the body had some explainingo do. but that night, atathe sheriff's department, getting him to focus was not an easy thing. >> oh god. it sucks. no. >> but i think you're the only one that can help us with this right now. >> i don't know what to do. >> reporter: b b investigators had a job to do, find betsy's killer and they thought it might be russ, who was incredibly emotional. was he acting? was this florid grief, actually real? whatever it was, russ seemed to be sticking with the suicide story. >> what do you think happened to betsy? >> it looked like she killed herself. >> reporter: but did he really not know about all those other stab wounds?
body was cold and stiff when those first responders arrived, rigor mortis had already set in, the blood was drying. based on that, it appeared betsy had been dead for sometime when ruru called 911. so detectives zeroed in on betsy and russ's movements. >> tell me about your night. >> reporter: russ said betsy had a chemo appointment that afternoon, planned to go to her mom's house afterwards, , d then russ would drive her home. or at least, that was the arrangement. but, when he called betsy sometime after 5pm. >> i asked her if she needed a ride on my way home and she said, no, that her friend was going to bring her hom and i said, okay. and she said she had something to talk to me about.
bad? and she said, well, it's good. don't worry. and i said, okay, well, i'll see you at home later and i love you. and that was the last time i talked to her. >> after that, said russ, he ran some errands, and then, at six as he almost always s d tuesday evenings, he arrived at a friend's house, where a small group gathered for what they called their "game night." >> we go over there on tuesday nights and usually we play games. >> reporter: but that particular night my friend had gotten a couple of movies. and so we decided to watch movies instead. >> he left at 9:00. he said stopped for a couple of sandwiches at a local arby's drive-through, then drove the 30 minutes back to his house in troy, which would have put him
he said he walked through the unlocked front door, all unsuspecting and then -- >> i was taking my jacket off and calling for betsy. and then i seen her there on the floor. >> will you ever forget what that was like, coming into the house and seeing that? >> i see it every time i close my eyes. >> i fell down there by her and i looked and i saw cuts on her arm and then i saw a knife in her neck. >> andndhat, said russ, is all he saw -- so it looked to hihi like she'd done it herself, deliberately. >> and if this comes back that it's not a suicide, you don't have any idea who may have harmed betsy? >> no, everybody loved betsy. she was a positive soul. she always brought smiles to people. and she made me smile all the time. she made me so proud. it's not typical for someone that's going to commit suicide to do it by the way that she done it. and that's -- that's what concerns us. >> so it did. it also made russ the prime suspect. coming up, russ and betsy's relationship. they'd recently enjoyed that romantic cruise, but a friend of betsy's tells police things between them really weren't that sunny. >> he'd start playing this game
this is what it's going to feel like when you die and then act like he was kidding. >> when "dateline" continues. why have your glasses fit manually, when there's the lenscrafters accufit system. replacing basic handheld measuring tools with a digital system that's five times more precise. indulgence... no longer comes at a price. well, actually it does... but it's just $9.99 new hot shot whisky chicken applebee's grill & bar favorites made a little better for you. featuring new dishes loaded with flavor,
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reporter: not long after russ faria found his wife dead, the police took him in for a long night of questions and a polygraph test the following afternoon. though, said russ, when he saw the machine -- >> honestly, i don't even know if the thing was on or not. >> reporter: but after it? they told him he failed it miserably, so he must have done it, they said. time for him to confess.
stabbed betsy. >> no, i hid not. i wasn't even there. >> russ, you wererthere. >> no, i found her like that when i came home. >> reporter: russ denied it again and again. >> i did not do this. >> reporter: but investigators didn't buy iand much of the reason for that is they were hearing from this woman. pam met betsy years earlier when they both worked in the insurance industry and she had a lot of things to say about russ, including what sounded like a big fat motive -- money. >> he makes comments about how much money he'll have after she's gone. i've never seen their financials, but he has life insurance on her at work.
>> reporter: pam told investigators she had been with betsy the day she died. betsy told her about a aroposal she was going to make to russ -- that the two of them move into her relative's house, while they rented out their home in troy. they'd all save money that way and she'd be closer to friends and her chemo treatments. but pam claimed betsy was concerned about how russ would react to that idea. >> and she goes, "okay. well, i'll tell him, but i'm telling you right now, he's going to get very angry." >> why? why? >> she said, "he's tired of moving. he is staying in his house and that's it." >> so she had already approached him with the idea? she was going to apapoach him -- >> okay. >> -- when he came home. >> reporter: could that have set russ off? investigators asked him about that. >> she never mentioned that to me. >> well, that was the news that she wanted to share with you when you got home. >> i never got a chance to hear it. the first time i heard about it was when you told me.
didn't believe that. especially when they heard the bombshell pam laid on them, a disturbing game pam said russ played with betsy. >> he'd start playing this game of putting a pillow over her face to see e at it would feel like. i don't know if he said this is what it's going to feel like when you die or whatever and then act like he was kidding. >> uh-huh. >> she was very upset. >> did she sound scared? >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: so they took that accusasaon to russ, too. >> i never did that.t. >> why would her friends tell the police that you had done that and that she was scared? >> she had no reason to be scared of me. she's never been scared of me. >> reporter: but it wasn't just the pam hupp story that made russ a key suspect. oh, no. though betsy was killed in her living room, crime scene investigators found her blood on a light switch in the bedroom. and on a pair of russ's slippers, stashed in a bedroom closet. >> t fact of the matter is, it's a sloppy crime scene. there's blood on yououclothes, in your residence, in your bedroom. >> i didn't even go to my bedroom. >> reporter: then they confronted russ with the
been stabbed over and over again, many, many times. >> your wife was stabbed over 25 times, russ. >> oh, my god. no. >> over 25 times. they're still coununng. >> oh, my god. >> a burglar doesn't do that, russ. a stranger doesn't do that. somebody who loves that person does that. somebody who goes into a blind rage does that. >> reporter: there was only one option, said the investigators. russ was`going to have to come clean and confess. >> there's no one else that has any kind of motive, monetary or crime of passion. >> i can't tell you what i don't know. i don't know. >> and i says, you know, i can't confess to something i didn't do and i can't giveou details for something that i iasn't present for. there was never a f fus on anybody else. >> reporter: it was the day after the murder that russ's cousin mary heard that betsy was dead, and that russ was being questioned. and that didn't make sense to her.
few days earlier. everything seemed fine then. >> betsy was laughing and happy. she was even saving him a spot on the couch. she's like, here, babe, you can sit next to me. >> reporter: mary was so sure russ would not, could not, have killed betsy, she set out to defend him any way she could. but by the time investigators released russ, 48 hours after he was first brought in for questioning, the story was all over the local media. >> and boy this case has really been taking a lot of turns today. >> that was hard. i mean, they showed my picture on the news s d -- >> reporter: they said you were the main suspect? >> yeah. that's what it appeared. and while i was watching it, my family came in and turned it off. they said, you don't need to watch that. >> reporter: some friends began to wonder if they'd ever really known russ at all. his famous jokester humor and pranks didn't seem so funny now. more like immature, crude, boorish. these church friends, sondra and
lot of time with betsy and russ. >> many people would describe him as a pig. just the things he would say. not respectful. and he would do that to everybody, but he's doing it to his wife, too. >> oh, you know, you wouldn't understand. it doesn't matter. you're not smart enough. you don't, like, say that in front of a group of people to your spouse. >> reporter: betsy's mother said she'd been close, veve close to russ. she also remembered a few things that now stuck out like a sore thumb. husband that if he got into a fight to kill. >> reporter: and betsy's sisters? they weren't aware russ ever physically hurt betsy, they said, but when they thought man. built-up anger. >> reporter: there was the time, of the daughters' boyfriends with a basasall bat. with a baseball bat? >> reporter: yeah. >> no. >> reporter: who told you about
>> i think they were very scared by it. >> reporter: so when officers told the family about all those stab wounds? >> when they said that, i didn't have any doubt in my mind. i never thought of -- it could be anybody else but russ when they told me that. >> reporter: that's what the investigators were thinking, too. but there were plenty of people in town who thought the idea that russ faria killed his wife was utter hogwash. and they said they could prove it. coming up, what sounds like a slam-dunk alibi from russ' game night buddies. >> we knew that he could not have comomtted this crime. >> reporter: i iossible? it's impossible. a man cannot be in two places at
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betsy faria died, her husband russ was without a doubt suspect number one. but while police accused him of murder -- >> all of the evidence points to you. >> reporter: and betsy's family painted russ as an angry man, others in russ faria's world didn't believe a word of it. >> they were very happy. and they were planning a trip to florida and it was going to be in march and he was like, well, if that's what you want to do, you plan it. we'll make it happen. >> reporter: after betsy's death, cousin mary saw russ's grief up close. >> he was heartbroken. and he kept saying how bad it hurt because he lost his betsy. that was the most heart-wrenching thing to see. >> reporter: they had a wake for betsy. and russ -- >> he broke down, just talking to her all by himself, just him at the casket. and he fell to the ground. he was a broken man. >> it was hard. it was very hard, but it was really nice to see how many people that she touched and that came. >> reporter: and as for that story pam hupp was telling about russ putting a pillow over
death feels like -- >> would russ have done such a thing? >> no. _ow, would russ pull a cover over her head and fart underneath it and say something like that? yes, he would. >> because he was a jokester? >> that he would do, yes. but would he put a pillow over her face and do that? absolutely not. >> they were happy couple. >> reporter: one of betsy's many good friends was russ's aunt, linda hartmann. she said russ was the last person she'd suspect of killing betsy, especially given how upupt he was about her t tminal cacaer. >> the way that he had spoken about losing betsy, you knew how much he loved her and he was taking it really badly. >> reporter: but, said linda, the police didn't seem to want to hear any of that. >> they kept ob asking me, you know, "do you think it could've been russ?" >> reporter: but, of course, most of what you heard was just opinion. russ's defenders had something much stronger in their corner. an alibi.
said he attended between 6:00 and 9:00pm the night betsy was murdered? this is michael corbin, the host of game night. a few of his friends had been coming by tuesday nights for years. >> essentially, it's a way where we can all get together, be sociable and not really spend any money. >> reporter: that particular tuesday night, mike said, russ and the others watched movies together. and everyone left at 9:00 p.m. as usual. and then early the next day mike and his girlfriend angie g a surprise. >> we were up having our morning coffee. got a knock on the door, which is instantly odd, about 6:00 or maybe a little before. the police more or less invite themselves in and start asking us a whole lot of questions about what happened last night. was russell here last night? s he drinking anything? was he acting strangely? >> reporter: thing is, the police didn't tell them anything beyond the fact that something had happened to betsy, said mike. they just asked a lot of questions about their game night the night before. then, three days later, there was another early morning knock
>> they took angie in one car, me in another vehicle with two investigators and they questioned us separately, or interrogated us. i'll put it that way. >> reporter: the two others at ke's house that night were also picked up and questioned separately. they all said the very same thing -- russ arrived around 6:00. they watched movies. >> and we were all within eight feet of each other the whole night. >> did he act the same as usual? >> oh yeah. >> and you -- >> yeah. you know, heheozed off at one point. i know that. this. >> reporter: nor was it simply the unsupported story of some a surveillance camera showed russ stopped for gas just after 5:15pm. stopped to buy cigarettes, dog food, a couple of iced teas on the way to game night before 6:00 p.m. russ's cell phone pinged in those areas, t t, and all evening -- from 6:00 to
and the receipt fromis trip to the arby's drive-thru was time-stamped 9:09 p.m. the drive back to russ's house would take, what witthat stop at arby's, about 35, 40 minutes, putting hih home just about the time he caed 911. >> once we heard the timeline, we knew w at he could not have committed this crime. >> impossible? >> it's impossible. a man cannot be in two places at the same time. >> i know how your wife died. >> reporter: but detectives not persuaded, not at all. after all, they had pam hupp's story. and what they said was russ's failed polygraph and her blood on his slippers. and it wasn't long after betsy was killed that russell faria was arrested for the murder of his wife. coming up, some say investigators may have blown it by focusing g ly on russ because it's somebody else who got the payout from betsy's $150,000 life insurance policy.
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>> > reporter: the case against russell faria went to trial in november 2013, almost two years after betsy's murder. >> i don't know what to do. >> reporter: prosecutors opened their case with that frantic 911 call the night betsy died. >> russell -- she -- do you think that she's beyond help right now? >> i think she's dead. >> reporter: the state said it sounded suspiciously hysterical, like an act. betsy's mother said it sounded to her like howls of guilt. >> yeah, "oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god." it's like, "oh, what did i do? what did i do?" >> well, he loved her, didn't he? >> u uhuh. that's what causes these -- these crimes of passion. >> reporter: if that wasn't suspicious enough, said the state, there was also russ's clearlz bogus suggestion that betsy killed herself.
after all, as they pointed out, the medical examiner discovered she had actually been stabbed more thaha50 times. members of betsy's family, including her daughters, testified that russ had a temper. the friemd who drove betsy home that night, pam hupp, told the jury what she told police, essentially that ruc'pad guy. the physical evidence, said the state, also proved that russ committed the murder -- that is, betsy's bloododn his slslpers and her blood on the bedroom light switch. even though she was killed in the living room. what's more, said the prosecutor, russ's semen was found in betsy, showing he had sex with her before killing her. as the prosecutor put it to the jurors, he violates her one morere time. and as for rususs alibi, the prosecutor said it only made his movements that evening more suspicious. looked like he went out of his way to appear in front of cameras at multiple gas stations when he could have biught everything at one place.
sounded suspiciously rehearsed, said the state. betsy's mother didn't think much of them either when they testified. >> they all were saying the exact same thing and the exact same monotone, da,da,da,da,da,da. it was unbelievable. reporter: and that t s in essence the state's case against russ faria. to which defense attorney joel schwartz said, are you kidding? >> in my opinion, annnocent man gocharged with murder. and then it sort of snowballed from thehe. >> reporter: for one thing, he said, the surveillance tapes, the
receipts, the cell tower pings, the friends' testimony created an alibi as airtigig as any he'd ever seen. but what stood out stark and clear to him, said schwartz, was that there were also some very
like, for example -- questions about pam hupp, who had bad mouthed russ to the police and the jury. pam, saischwartz, had to be one of the last people, if not the last, to see betsy
alive. that would have been just after 7pm. within the window of time betsy is thought to have died. and when schwartz read the police reports and listened to pam's interviews, inconsistencies stood out to him, anyway. example? one report indicated betsy's mom said pam told her she didn't go into betsy's house when she dropped her off that evening. but -- >> she told the police a completely different story. she said she went inside for 10 to 15 minutes. >> seems like maybe more between 10 and 20 minutes? >> could be, yeah. >> okay. >> i really wasn't paying attention. i was just trying to get out of there. >> sure. >> another one? pam said when she left the house, betsy was sitting on the couch but in another interview, which was videotaped, she said something different. >> she may have still been o the couch, but today it makes sense that she walked me to thth dodo.
e phone records begigiing at 7:21. betsy did not answer phone calls, including three from a daughter. which just a short time earlier, she had promised to answer. so, was she dead by then? six minutes later >> at 7:27, there's a call from m hupp's cellphone t tbetsy's cellphone. >> reporter: that one also went unanswered but here's what pam told the police ababt that 27 p.m. call. >> i called betsy to tell her i was home. >> home? not possible, said schwartz. pam ved a half hour's drdre away. but where actually was she, based on the cell tower triangulation? >> the cell tower triangulation showed that she had not gotten more than at the very most, about three miles from the house. at the very lelet, she was still at the house. >> reporter: but the biggest questions to schwartz was about insurance. it seemed very odd to attorney schwartz that just four days
supposedly betsy, made pam the beneficiary of betsy's $150,000 life insurance policy. >> and she got the money? >> she got the money. >> reporter: pam told investigators she was one of betsy's best friends and betsy wanted her to get t e money to make sure her daughters got what they needed. >> she goes, "would you be my beneficiary on my life policies and make sure my kids get when they need it? and i said, "well, i could." >> reporter: but to make this important change, they went to a local library and had a young librarian, not a notary or any insurance company employee, witness betsy's signature on the change of beneficiary form. the whole thing seemed very fifiy to schwartz. >> i believe that betsy was conned in some way, shape or form into signing this polic without believinit would ever acacally be sent to the insurance company, which is why she never told anybody, including her own mother and her own sisters, who she was very
>> reporter: but the lead detective told the insurance company pam was not a suspect and so the company cut her the check. >> the husband always does it. so, of course, this is the guy who did it. and i think that clouded their judgment in their investigation. it's the only explanation in my eyes to explain what i consider to be a horribly deficient investigation. >> reporter: much later, that same lead detective was preparing pam to testify at russ's trial and warned her the defense would certainly bring up the issue. >> one of the concerns that i have is -- again, like i said, e defense raising dodot with u just because you'r'rone of the last people to see betsy. you get this money given to you. >> reporter: after all, said the detective, pam did benefit from betsy's death to the tune of 150,000. >> they're going to suggest that u may have somethingngo do wiwi the planning or thehe conspiracy to commit that murder because of your financial windfall. >> reporter: and not only that. >> what you're originally
she wanted you to do this to try to take care of -- make sure the kids are taken care of because they're afraid of russ and she's afraid of russ and the kids will blow through it. however, you now have thisisoney and have not turned any ofofhis money over to the family or the kids. >> that's correct. >> that's a huge problem. >> reporter: to make it look like less of a problem, he said, she should set up a trust for betsy's daughters and soon. >> it helps, obviously, if that trust is going to be set up for the girls - >> it will -- >> -- before the trial. >> and i told you that at the first phone call. >> sure. >> reporter: then the detective prepared pam for the key question he expected the defense to ask. >> did you have anything to do with betsy's murder? >> no, absolutely not. >> that's exactly what's going to be asked of you. >> reporter: in open court, but ouide the presence of that jury, attorney schwartz told the judge that, indeed, he did intend to ask pam hupp about all those things when she took the stand. but the judge said, no, he would not ask about any of that because, said the judge, there
pam and the murder. >> in the 25 years i've been practicing law, i've never -- a witness testifies, you can cross-examine the witness. that's a basic tenet of law. their bias, their interest, the fact that they are the last person with the victim, the fact they've just recently were given the victim's insurance under who knows what pretenses, the fact that they lied about going into the house, the fact that they lied about where they were when they called the victim after being in the house, and j couldn't get into any of that. i've never seen anything like it. >> reporter: meanwhile, the case against russell faria wasn't quite finished. the allegation still to come. russ had helpers as he set about killing his wife. coming up, prosecutors detail a mind-boggling plolo
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case that his client was an innocent man. russ wasn't pretending to be grieving when he made that 911 call, said joel schwartz. he was grieving. >> it sounded like a man whose wife was dead and he was grieving tremendously. however, he was doing his best to answer the questions when asked in order to help the 911 operator and to help the police solve this. >> reporter: and russ told the police he thought it was suicide because that's what it looked like when he walked into the house ananfound her there. >> her wrist was slit deeply and the knife was in her neck. although there was 56 wounds, those were the only two visible to the naked eye. her shirt, her pants covered every other stab wound, and those weren't visible to see. i think the person calling this in as a suicide is not somebody
somebody who had no idea. >> reporter: what's more, said schwartz, many of betsy's wounds were clearly not the result of the wildldtabbing you'd see in a crime of passion. rather they appeared to have been methodically and deliberately made after betsy wawadead to make it look like a crime of passion. >> there's no other explanation for the lack of blood and there's no other explanation for the deep cut on her wrist that's post-mortem. >> reporter: and the blood evidence on russ's slippers? >> there wasaso imprint of a shoe in the blood, nor was there any footprint anywhere on the tile floor leading back to where >> reporter: so how would the e blood get t the shoes? this. >> reporter: dipped it in the blood? >> dipped it in the blood and hid those back in the closet. >> reporter: as for the prosecution accusation that russ had sex with betsy before killing her -- >> without getting too graphic, there were eight sperm cell found inside of her during the autopsy the next day.
with what russ told the policece said schwartz. >> we were intimate sunday night. >> reporter: that is, intimacy two days before the murder. and besides all of that, said the defense, given russ's alibi, there is simply no way he could have committed the crime. but the state wasn't quite finished with its case against russ fariaia in her closing argument to the jury, prosecutor leah askey proposed a complex theory of how the crime occurred, a theory for which she did not present idence at the trial.l. and it was big. russ's alibi, she told the jury, was carefully staged for the precise intention of hiding a murder and that russ's game night friends were in deep, co-conspirators who helped russ hatch the murder plan, waited for the righghnight to carry it out, then lied about it on the stand. an accusation mike corbin wasn't in court to hear. but later?
pale. i mean, wewee innocent people. there is absolutely no evidence that we did anything wrong that night. there never will be because it didn't happen. >> r rorter: and despite what the prosecutor argued, neither mike corbin nor any of the others have ever been charged with conspiracy, nor have they been connected in any way to betsy's murder. so, according to the prosecutor, how did russ do it? without getting a single drop of blood on the clothes he wore all that evening, d that night when he talked to detectives afterward. here's how, said the prosecutor to the jury. first, knowing what he intended to do, russ ran errands so that he would appear in front of thosossurveillance camerasas then drove to his friend's house and dropped off his cell phone so it would ping there all evening. then he drove the half hour home, stripped nakededhad sex with betsy, stabbed her more than 50 times, showered, put on his slippers, began to step in
stopped, took those slippers off. at some e int, said prosecutoror askey, russ went to the kitchen to get towels, which he used to clean up, and finally he put his clothes back on. meanwhile, to o mplete his alibi, one of the game night buddies drove russ's phone back to his house, picking up an arby's receipt for him on the way. only then, said d e prosecutor, did russ call 911 as he tossed his bloody slippers into the closet. and what did russ thinof all at? >> i thought she was making up some kinda cockamamie story. here i have four credible people, you know, that i was with all evening. i don't know anybody that would lie for anybody when it comes to a crime like that, you know. i wouldn't, not for my best friend, not for my mom. >> reporter: the more important question, of course, was what the jurors would think.. they deliberated four and a half hours before arriving at a verdict.
seeing them come in. >> i was nervous. the rest of my life is on the line. and, you know, depending on these 12 people, just hoping and just trying to hold it allll together. >> reporter: he had done everything he could to appear innocent. but was he? coming up -- >> i couldn't really reaeawhat they were thinking, you know, up until they spoke. >> the jury delivers its verdict, but this case is the opposite of over. in our next hour new witnesses, new evidence, and a new account of the night of the murder. >> she remembered seeing a car parked in an odd position down the street. and there were two guys in there. >> reporter: but first, a judge's almost unheard of ruling. >> it's incredibly rare, having happened only three times previously in the state of ssouri.
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so people can actually get ahead. hillary clinton, she has what it takes to get things done. i'm hillary clinton and i approve this message. despite an alibi corroborated by several friends, russ faria is charged with murder in the case of his wife. again, keith m mrison. >> reporter: there's quite possibly no room, no space, as thick with tension as a
when a jury, its intentions hidden b bind masks of discretion, prepares to announce its verdict. russ faria stood and searched their faces. but -- >> i couldn't really read what they were thinking. up until they spoke. >> reporter: betsy's family stared and listened. >> and when you heard it? >> relief. >> huge relief. >> reporter: relief because the verdict was guilty. guilty of first-degree murder. russ faria struggled to maintain his composure. >> it was devastating. but i was trying my best to hold it together because my family's behind me and i can hear them crying. >> the worst part of it was looking at russ's face.. heheas in shock. he couldn't believe it. and i haven't lost sleep in a long time over something in this business and i lost sleep.
was convinced that a terrible injustice had just occurred. but betsy's family did not agrere >> they wanted to blame somebody and the police were telling them that it was me. >> reporter: which was exactly right, said betsy's mother, all the more convinced that justice had been done. no matter what any of russ'sma2&ceiek"t(jjut)qpconvencido que supporters might tell her. >> if somebody were to come to you with evidence, strong evidence, that it wasn't russ, but it was some other person, is that something that you would accept? >> i would still feel it's russ, 100%. >> reporter: a month after his trial, just before christmas 2013, russ faria was sentenced to life in prison. he filed an appeal. and sat in his cell, unable to do much of anything except think. >> i can't imagine ever being mad enough to do anythininlike that to anybody, let alone my wife whom i love. i've never stopped loving my wife. i'm innocent of this. i did not kill her. >> what's it take to get used to
>> a lot of prayer. a lot of faith. >> faith in what? >> faith in god. faith in my attorney. >> reporter: that, of course, was joel schwartz, who told us, then that for him the case was not over. far from it. >> i know that russ didn't kill betsy. and if russ didn't, then a jury should hear all the information. >> reporter: so schwartz submitted the usual paperwork. and then he e o, was forced to wait. for how long, who knew? >> you never know. the response is truthfully how long is a piece of string. it just depends. i'm hoping this is open and shut, and we get this thing back in court soon. this man does not deserve to be in prison. >> reporter: and so schwartz got busy. for one thing, he followed the money. remember betsy's life insurance payout to pam hupp? pam told detectives the moneye3 f1 was for betsy's daughters. and in fact --
in the name of the kids approximately five days prior to the commencement of trial. >> reporter: but isn't this interesting? >> about 10 days after the trial had concluded, the trust was defunded over 99.7% of what had been placed in there. >> wait a minute. she funded the trust so that
during the trial it would look like she had given all this money to the kids. >> that's exactly correct. >> reporter: then in july 2014, pam was questioned by lawyers representing betsy's daughters, who are suing her over the insurance money and that time pam said that the money was never intended for betsy's daughters. betsy wanted her to have the money all for herself. >> did she mention to you that she wanted the money to be used for her daughters? >> absolutely not. >> she never said anything like that? >> absolutely not.t. no. >> did she tell you that she wanted you to get the money and to hold it for the benefit of her daughters until they were older?
>> i never doubted that that was her motive in the first place. sosoothing surprised me. however, that in and of itself is something that the court of appeals needed to hear about. >> reporter: the question, was key evidence from the state's star witness a lie? so in addition to the usual formal appeal, schwartz filed a request for a special hearing to reconsider and perhaps throw out the guilty verdidi based on what pam said about and did with the insurance money. >> we thought the likelihood of success was very small. however, we had what i know to be an innocent man sitting in prison. so i was willing to take any shot. >> reporter: and what do you know? in february 2015, his motion was approved. he would get his hearing. >> it's incredibly rare having happened only three times previously in the state of missouri. >> ever? >> ever. >> reporter: a few months later,
hearing, prosecutor leah askey met with pam hupp. their conversation was recorded. >> so what are our chances of making the judge believe us? >> reporter: askey replied that she was confident. >> i feel comfortable the law is on our side as far as next week goes. so i feel real c cfortable with that. and the truth of the matter is, while i don'n'want to have another trial, we've got a good case. you know? and i'm a better lawyer today than i was three years ago. >> reporter: and pam hupp agreed when askey suggested that joel schwartz's bruised ego was the reason for the special hearing, and it was a waste of her time and taxpayer money. >> so i'd be happy to take him on again. i mean, i've also got another 3,000 cases that need my attention.
>> keep redoing them -- >> right. just because somebody got their feelings hurt becaususthey lost. >> schwartz isn't used to losing. >> right. and so that's really what it's about in my opinion. that's what it's about, so to me it's doing a disservice to the taxpayers and citizens here. >> reporter: was she right? a week later, on a june morning in 2015, a judge would decide. hurt feelings or injustice? coming up, a new witness echos pam hupp's claim that in at least one important way, betsy did not trust russ. >> she asked if my husband and i would be beneficiaries on one
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reporter: in june 2015, a year and half after russ faria was convicted of murder, joel schwartz returned to the same courthouse to make his pitch. pam hupp, the state's key witness, had shown herself not to be credible, said schwartz, and so the conviction should be thrown out. prosecutor askey countered that the case against russ was as strong as ever. arguments lasted less than an hour. they broke at eleven. the jujue said he'd make a decision by 1:30 p.m. but -- >> at 1:30, no judge. i started to get a little nervous because he'd had plenty of time and to write motion granted doesn't take very long. however if you're going to write a denial, that's gonna go to the court of appeals, it could take quite a while. lot nervous.
one of the sheriffs. and i thought, we're going to lose this thing. my confidence had faded. i asked what was going on, if he knew. and the sheriff told me that there was a printer problem. >> a printer problem. >> so at that point my spirits were lifted and i thought, okay, we still may win this. and the judge came out moments later. >> i didn't know what he was going to say until he said it. and it just -- very nervous time. but when he handed down his decision, it was like, finally, something good in my favor. >> reporter: his guilty conviction was overturned. russ faria would get a new trial. >> it was very overwhelming. yoyojust felt like you had a huge victory. you know, the only thing we ever wanted was a fair chance, a fair trial. >> reporter: russ would remain in jail awaiting trial, though unless someone could come up with bond money. mary was determined to make that happen. >> we were supposed to come up with $50,000 plus property. >> plus property? >> plus property as collateral. >> to guarantee the -- >> correct.
>> no, not at all. and i didn't know if we could do it. >> reporter: but mary had been fighting for her cousin since the day he was charged and -- >> we got lucky. somebody i know set me up with a bondsman that knew the story, didn't believe an innocent man should be sitting there, and he worked with me. >> reporter: mary pupuup her home as collateral. >> i'm that positive in his innocence and that he's not going anywhere. >> reporter: and less than two weeks after the hearing, m my, relatives and friends all piled into a bus provided by a generous supporter and showed up unannounced at the jail, where russ, who'd been behind bars for three and a half years, had no idea what was about to happen. >> the look on his face was priceless. >> i was just trying to call you. >> it was just very emotional. you almoststeel like you can't breathe. >> who'd you see first?
and getting to hug and kiss as much as you want. just be with all the people you love at the same time. >> reporter: russ moved in with his mom and resumed as much as he could the life he'd missed behind bars. like game e ght with his old friends, outings with family independence day, concerts, fishing, ball games. life was sweet on the outside. but all the while, the cloud drifted toward him. the second trial, the real possibility he'd b bconvicted again and sent right back to prison. and yet russ told us that despite the risk he was looking forward to a new trial. >> i want a fair trial the way that it should've been. so that people can renew their faith in the justice system. >> reporter: except perhaps he didn't know what the prosecution was s nding out about him.m. a whole new investigation was
material. the prosecutor declined to excellent on her new comment on her new evidence or anything else. so we learned what we could from some of the state's new witnesses like betsy's long-time friend, rita wolf. >> we met freshman year in high school and became friends immediately and have been friends ever since. our friendship never really stopped except for a couple years when i went away to college. she had moved to florida and then we reconnected after that. >> it's rare to have a high school friend you are able to kind of reconnect with and rerein close to. >> oh, yeah. pick up where we left off. >> reporter: betsy confided in her, said rita, especially about her cancer. >> she came to my house once and i didn't even know she was upset the moment. we talked about a few things and then she just broke down bawling. and she's like, i'm going to kill myself. but then there would be days where you would never even know she had cancer. we'd go play tennis out of the blue and i'd say, are you
feel great today. and her personality y d changed for the moment.. >> do you remember how you found out that she was dead? >> i was feeding both of my babies, they were in their high chairs, and my oldest son said, there betsy. and i turned and looked and i had my tv muted, and betet's faceceas on the tv. that's how i found out. >> what is that like? >> i cried. i called my husband immediately and said, you're not going to believe this but betsy's gone, betsy's dede. for a minute, i thought, oh, crap, did she really kill herself? >> reporter: but only for a minute. and of course when she learned betsy had been stabbed many times, she knew it was murder. dudung those first days of grieving rita sought out betsy's family. >> i did ask specifically, "do you guys think russ did this?" and they said, "oh god, no!" at that moment they did not think russ did it. >> but what changed it? >> you know, my opinion is that the more theherosecutions office shared information with their family --
>> the more they believed, "oh my god, he did this." and they would share with me. one of the sisters would text me and tell me, you'll never believe this. and then we would talk and so as time went on, i started believing it. >> reporter: rita told prosecutor askey she knew, intimately, about one of the key pieces of evidence, life insurance. remember russ's defense implied that pam hupp somehohotricked betsy into signing over, to her, a $150,000 policy. but rita knew exactly what betsy wanted to do with that insurance, and it didn't look good for russ. >> she asked if my husband and i would be beneficiaries on one of her life insurance policies. >> why would she do that? >> well, what she told me was that she really felt that russ would blow the money on toys and fun and would not spend it on the girls and helping the girls start a life. she was realal, really concerned about the girls getting the money to have for certain things in their life. >> and didn't think he was
him with it. >> yeah. i think russ will piss it away, is what she told me. so we sat down at my dining room table and we wrote out a mocked up version of a trust. >> reporter: so it sounded a lot like what pam m pp had said that betsy did not trust russ with her life insurance money but she did trust a friend. >> you agreed to do it? >> no. i did not agree to do it. told betsy i felt that because she had so many loving sisters i would have done it -- i would have put one of her sisters on there. >> reporter: but if betsy wanted a friend t ttake charge of her money, maybe she went next to her friend pam hupp. did rita's story mean russ had a motive to kill betsy? and how about this? pam hupp, the state's prime witness in the first trial, had new evidence too, which you can only call explosive. secrets until now. for reasons which will perhaps be obvious.
rita, that would blow the case wide open. >> i told her i really hope if you think he still did it that you have a whole lot more evidence than you had the first time and she said they did. >> but did she say i have a bombshell. i have something really big. >> she did. she did. coming up, from out of the blue a dramatic new claim about betsy's personal life. >> she revealed that she and betsy had had an intimate relationship.
soon after russ was released from jail. >> and told them a secret something very surprising indeed. >> she revealed for the first time that she and betsy had had an intimate relationship. >> robert patrick has been watching the russ faria case just as we have. he's a reporter for the st. louis post-dispatch. and he, too, was taken aback by pam's story of an affair with betsy. >> they became close friends when they worked together at an insurance company and as russ and betsy relationship kind of deteriorated, pam took kind of a surrogate role as partner. >> i knew everything about every member of her family, about everything they'd done. >> here's pam telling the detectives. >> i knew the most intimate of intimate of family stuff from her. >> okay. >> so our relationship started pretty soon fast of -- i was a huge confidante of hers. i don't tell other people's business. i don't really care --
>> about that stuff. so she knew that she could talk to me about anything, and it wouldn't go any farther. >> right. >> so that -- we had a special bond that way. >> it wasn't intimate initially, but after the cancer diagnosis, pam thought that the least that she could do for her friend was to sort of give into this intimacy that betsy wanted. >> i mean, we just spent a whole lot of time together, you know, and i did. i replaced what a husband would be. it's honestly a relationship with two women who really aren't attracted to women. i don't know how to explain that. it's not -- i'm attracted to men. love everything about them. can't wait till "magic mike xl" comes out, but she's the same way. it's not like she was a lesbian or anything. it wasn't like that. it was such an evolution of emotional trauma for her. >> because russ, according to
but when he found out what betsy was up to? >> what did russ think about this relationship, according to pam? >> according to pam, even before they consummated it, he was suspicious of their relationship. and apparently he and betsy had arguments about it. and she would kind of throw her relationship with pam in russ's face. >> and she talked about me all the time and it bothered him. >> and that angered him? >> because it wasn't just -- >> well, bothered is one thing. >> well, he thought it was sex. at that time, it wasn't even sex. he thought that was part of it because she likes sex, but that's not true. >> well, and -- and you're absolutely right. i don't think the sex would have bothered him as much, again, as -- >> no, he wouldn't have cared about that. >> the emotional part. >> if we just went and banged in the closet once a week or whatever -- >> yep. >> he would have cared less. >> i agree 100% with that. >> and there's a lot of people like that there's no threat.
i was very threatening to him because -- >> you --
you were changing his whole -- >> oh, i was changing his life. >> his whole dynamic. yeah. >> then one day, pam told the detectives, russ confronted her, and something truly ugly happened. >> pushed me up against the wall, and he was all red-faced >> kind of like a gritted teeth? >> oh, he's like, talk about this far away from my face. yeah, he was right there. i could feel his spit, nasty. and he said, you two [ bleep ], something to that effect, if i ever catch you together again, i'll bury you out in the backyard. >> just a few weeks prior to her being killed? >> yes. >> and, said pam, on the night betsy was murdered, she was going to tell russ she was leaving him, intended to file for divorce. and betsy knew that russ would be furious, said pam. but neither of them understood how furious. >> i had guilt feelings. i'm leaving her with this [bleep] coming home. i know he's coming home. she knows he's coming home. we both know there's going to be a big thing going on, and i left her there. >> right. >> and i felt guilty, but i didn't want to be there. >> then almost four months later
trial, pam told detectives she started recalling some vague images in her head from the night of
the murder. and so on her own she went to the scene of the crime and standing there outside the faria house, she told those detectives, an old memory returned to her, a crucial memory. >> she went back to the faria's old house and took pictures. and kind of looked down the street in different ways and she said that she remembered seeing russ that night. she remembered seeing a car kind of parked in an odd position down the street and there were two guys in there. >> and you think you recognized one of those men. >> i do, yes. >> and who do you think you believe -- who do you believe that person was? >> i believe it was russ. >> and there was another guy who was kind of bigger or bulkier in the passenger seat. when she drove by, they appeared to be ducking down, as if, you know, perhaps they lost something on the floor. and at one point, the passenger was gone.
complicated return memory. >> i mean, it is and it's potentially a huge gift to the prosecutors. like, hey, we've got russ faria on the scene at a time when it would sort of
fit in with all the evidence. he or someone else sneaks in kills her. and she's got time to be cold and stiff by the time ems arrives. absolutely. and an eyewitness who said she saw it. >> right. >> and then the prosecutor revealed she'd uncovered what she said was a true scandal. russ had a girlfriend, said prosecutor askey, was stepping out with her at the time of the murder. a girlfriend, who it seemed, was having his baby. >> here's another motive for russ to kill his wife because he wanted to be with his pregnant girlfriend. >> but the key piece of new evidence, undiscovered until now was a letter found on betsy's laptop, a letter that spelled out her fears about russ.
gun. >> the prosecutor called it betsy's basically dying declaration. talked about betsy having a pillow put over her face, feeling threatened by russ, talked about the insurance. here's this really bad guy who's motivated by all these things, to do me harm. >> it was the letter in which betsy asked pam to accept her life insurance money and use it to help betsy's daughters. it ended with a line that, looking back, could be considered prophesy. >> she says if anything happens to me, give this to the police. >> prosecutor leah askey was confident russ faria was about to be convicted of murder a second time. coming up, joel schwartz has a very different take, arguing that the prosecution's new evidence will only help russ. >> the lies upon lies continued
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the treatment, to some people, didn't seem equal. >> betsy's side, they could cut in line. they didn't get patted down. they didn't use a wand. they didn't search their purses. pam hupp got to go in through an employees' door. >> reporter: this was a very polarized room, this courtroom. it was like the -- two sides didn't want much to do with each other at all, right? >> not at all. it was tense. >> reporter: prosecutor leah askey presented the case, again, as a crime of passion. she reviewed all the old evidence -- the 55 stab wounds, the bloody slippers, russ's alleged abusive and controlling behavior, and so on. >> here's a bad guy. he's mean to his kids. he's mean to his dog. he's mean to his wife. there's blood in spots, maybe there was cleanup in other spots. >> reporter: and then there was all that new evidence. and one extra tidbit mentioned
the trial. >> a sheriff's deputy said, i remembered that i did see some water in the tub. >> reporter: meaning? >> well, that fit with the prosecution theory that russ had killed her and cleaned up. >> reporter: so, what did defense attorneys nathan swanson and joel schwartz think about this amped up evidence against russ? not much, apparently. that last bit, for example, the water drops in the bathtub with its allege that russ killed betty and then cleaned up in the tub -- >> this officer coming up with this evidence three and a half years after the fact and allegedly remembering something as minute of a detail as water droplets in a tub is deeply troubling. there was never a report on this. and frankly, i don't believe it. >> awfully a convenient recollection to have years later. >> reporter: what about pam hupp's story about a secret, intimate relationship with betsy? >> i don't believe it. nor did anybody else who knows
and frankly the people we spoke to who knew pam hupp, nobody bout it. it was just an excuse for betsy to have given her the money. >> reporter: no, said the defense, the state's case didn't make any more sense now than it did the first time. >> it was still based on no evidence. >> reporter: but the wildest thing of all, said defense attorney schwartz, was the tale, make that tales, told by pam hupp. >> pam's story became -- it's called super charged. as she continued to speak with the detectives, the stories became more outlandish. i think in their view their case got better. however, the lies upon lies continued to, at least in our view, enhance our defense, number one, and show that the basis of their theory had nothing, had no stability whatsoever. >> reporter: but unless she was telling the truth? >> it's simply not possible based upon her answers that she was telling the truth, because the things that were stated by
different from things that had been stated by her previously. >> reporter: were they? well, yes. back in 2011, pam said she'd only met russ a few times. >> he seems nice enough. i just don't know him that well. i saw him -- the last time i saw him was at her 40th birthday party he had for her. >> reporter: but june 2015, she said she knew him all too well, saw him up close and personal just before the murder, when she claimed russ threatened to bury her in the backyard. >> just a few weeks prior to her being killed? >> yes. >> reporter: in july 2014, when pam was questioned by lawyers representing betsy's daughters, she denied any intimate relationship with betsy. >> we were not having an affair. there was not an intimate relationship. >> reporter: but when detectives met with pam a year later, in 2015, pam was telling them they were very intimate indeed.
would be. >> reporter: curious. also, in the 2014 civil deposition pam said she had a good memory. >> do you have any memory problems, ms. hupp? >> no. no. >> reporter: but in 2015, when she told detectives that she suddenly recalled seeing russ outside his house the night betsy was murdered, she blamed her not remembering that before on her having a bad memory. >> so my brain has been almost like a boxer's brain. severe head injuries, three accidents in a row. >> reporter: but just as astonishing as her inconsistencies, said the defense attorneys, was where that story about seeing russ that night actually came from -- one of the detectives. you can hear it for yourself. >> what we believe may have happened is that you were present, that russ was not there when you and betsy got there.
somehow or another russ knew that you were there, either by a phone call or just the sheer presence of your car, or that he walked in and saw you there and that -- it was that particular moment motivating factor for you to leave was him coming into the house. that is what we have discussed amongst ourselves. >> reporter: the detective asked pam straight out -- >> is any part of that correct, and it is in fact, did you see russ that night? >> no. >> reporter: you heard right. she said no. until a few months later when she said yes. >> who do you believe that person was? >> i believe it was russ. >> the police in -- in effort to enhance miss hupp's story as well as bolster their case, suggested a theory to miss hupp that she may have seen russell faria at the house that night. >> reporter: which she adopted. >> i mean, it's so brazen to be
everyone can hear it. >> reporter: pam's inconsistencies, said the defense, were rampant. >> and it wasn't even that she would tell a story and then a week or a month later, tell a different story. the stories she would tell in a single interview would be inconsistent. >> reporter: then, remember the state's allegation that russ was having an affair when betsy was murdered and the woman was possibly pregnant with his baby at the time? a little fact-checking might have been a good idea. while the woman did have an affair with russ, it was way before betsy was murdered. and while she once claimed she had russ's baby while he was in prison, that simply wasn't true, as she herself admitted. >> reporter: what happened when she put this woman on the stand? >> the woman said what she always said. "yes, we had an affair. that affair ended a year and a half before betsy died. i never had a baby. i don't know why i'm here." >> reporter: surprise!
too. didn't look good for someone. coming up, from deep inside a computer, investigators are about to retrieve a critical piece of evidence. >> it is a smoking gun. >> reporter: and the defense makes a risky move. >> i was either going to be the goat or the hero. >> reporter: when "dateline" continues.y ma? always life is unpredictable, so embrace it! head and shoulders. live flake free for life if you're trying to be a little better... things just got a whole lot better. introducing entrees loaded with flavor, not calories. applebee's grill & bar favorites made a little better for you. featuring new dishes, all under 650 calories
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reporter: it was a little like watching a tennis match for observers at russ faria's murder retrial. the prosecution served hard and the defense responded in kind. >> every time her people went up, joel would come back and he would just shoot 'em down. >> reporter: joel schwartz, russ's attorney, was having some success cross-examining the prosecutor's witnesses. like, for example, rita wolf, who was called by the prosecution, but -- >> the defense i talked to them as well. >> uh-huh. >> and i really felt that the life insurance piece helped them more than it helped the prosecution just because of who got it.
course, who got it. could 150,000 be a motive for murder? as pam herself told detectives -- >> and money is -- makes people do crazy, crazy things. >> reporter: but the big surprise? at the first trial, an officer testified that a special test had possibly detected blood in the kitchen. he'd taken photos to prove it. but he told the court the pictures did not turn out, so jurors would have to take his word for it. >> the officer testified that nothing developed. all of the photographs were simply blackness because the camera malfunctioned. >> reporter: schwartz didn't believe it. >> i'd been insisting for the last two and a half years on these black photos. i didn't buy it. >> reporter: and finally, just before the 2nd trial, his suspicions were confirmed. the photos did turn out, were there all along.
132 photos. not one of which didn't develop. >> wow. >> reporter: those pictures, said schwartz, did not support the officer's testimony about the results of that special test. >> and they didn't show what he wanted them to show, which is why we didn't see them in the first trial. >> reporter: in fact, later testing found no blood at all in the kitchen. >> you used a very strong word about that testimony. >> perjury? >> yeah. >> it's a strong word. it's a strong allegation. it's not an inaccurate allegation, though. >> but you're talking about a police officer? >> yes, i am. >> reporter: when we called the officer, he strenuously rejected that allegation. he was never charged with perjury, and he accused attorney schwartz of dealing in smoke and mirrors. in any case, the defense still had a big problem, that computer document. the one addressed to pam found on betsy's laptop, but never sent in which she asked pam to be beneficiary of her life insurance and then expressed a kind of fear about what russ might do to her.
dying declaration. >> when you got it, what did you think? >> i would say initial reaction was, this is troubling. >> reporter: so it was, because it appeared to back up pam hupp's version of events. in fact, pam told detectives about the document soon after the murder. >> i would like to see maybe if you guys can find that letter she was going to send me. >> reporter: but whether they looked for it or not, they didn't find it. not then. not until just before the second trial, when a cyber crimes investigator finally cracked that computer. a copy of the document was turned over to the defense. >> it is a smoking gun, but it's not a smoking gun that leads to russ. i had always said that this letter would turn up only because ms. hupp was so insistent that this letter was there. >> reporter: but, this was curious. there was something different about this particular document, different from any other document in betsy's computer. >> once we looked at the letter and had our computer expert analyze it, it turns out that it
impossible, for betsy to have written this the way it came up in her computer. >> why would you say that? >> it was the only document in that computer that said author unknown, the only one. >> reporter: meaning the document most likely had been composed on a different computer altogether. then transferred to betsy's laptop, said the defense, without betsy's knowledge. >> ms. hupp knew what computer it was in, where on the computer it was, the entire contents of the letter as well when it was created. i find that suspicious at least. >> reporter: because, said schwartz, the document was loaded onto betsy's laptop the day before pam was named the beneficiary of betsy's life insurance policy. and just days before the murder. >> it's likely that person deliberated coolly as to what they were going to do to betsy and when they would do it, knowing where russ would be at the time. >> which, if you're right, means a pretty carefully planned
>> i think you follow the dots, as well as the money, and that information should be carefully as well as thoroughly looked at. >> reporter: pam hupp, whose story was the backbone of the state's case against russ faria, was not called to testify. but, thanks to her police interviews, the shifting stories pam told were front and center in the trial, along with revelations like how she kept the life insurance money and was the last person known to have seen betsy alive. >> the judge allowed us to go into those things. >> reporter: in the end, it wouldn't be a jury who'd decide russ faria's fate. joel schwartz had already rolled the dice and elected trial by judge alone. too late to go back now. >> a bench trial, a trial by a judge alone and not jury. why in heaven's name would you do that when it can be risky? >> frankly, it was a gut instinct.
>> reporter: he'd find out soon enough.. coming up, the judge announces his ruling. >> that's a scary moment. >> it was a horrible moment. after four long years, the case russ faria finally learns his fate. you know, in hindsight, i probably shoulda just started in nashville. it's finger lickin' good. you've tried to forget your hepatitis c. but you shouldn't forget this. hep c is a serious disease. left untreated it can lead to liver damage and potentially liver cancer.
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reporter: it was at lunchtime friday, the fifth day >> i was just kind of milling around outside the courtroom with family and friends and they were all trying to keep my spirits up. >> reporter: then, three excruciating hours later. >> the judge was getting ready to come back in. >> and you're thinking, i'm gonna be sick. i reached over to his sister and she had the same exact feeling. so we were sitting there holding each other's hands thinking, oh, we can't go through this again. what happens? what if? what if he feels the same way those jurors did? what do we do then? we can't go through this. and he walks out and he starts talking. >> that's a scary moment. >> it was a horrible moment. >> i'm just standing there and i'm sure i was holding my breath, you know, and just standing as straight as i could focused in on the judge. it seemed like an eternity.
thinking, well, now i'm a little confused. because where is he going with this. >> reporter: and then finally, here it was, the words. >> and he says, you know, on the count of murder in the first degree, i find you not guilty. on the count of armed criminal action, i find you not guilty. it's just like a heavyweight lifted off my shoulders. >> and we all just busted up in tears. and you felt the floor come out from under your feet. and you're thinking, did we hear it right? is it real? is he really coming home? >> reporter: he was. russ faria was a free and finally finally vindicated man. >> to see the tears of joy and to see the defense attorneys cry, i was happy for russ and his family because he sat in prison long enough. >> reporter: there was a big celebration, of course. many thank you's to the people who'd stuck with him, who worked so hard to win his freedom.
celebrating.. betsy's family declined to be interviewed, but called the verdict, quote, shocking and heartbreaking. pam hupp also declined our request. once again denied she was involved in any way with betsy's murder. pam has never been charged with any crime in connection with this case. a case prosecutor leah askey considers closed. she told dateline she still believes russ killed betsy. in fact, askey gave us a written statement, there was probable cause to believe the defendant committed the crime. a jury was firmly convinced of his guilt. a judge was not. well, in fact, in open court, the judge said, the investigation into the facts and theories of this case by law enforcement is rather disturbing and frankly raised more questions than answers. >> i've represented a lot of people that i felt were innocent
none more than russ. >> reporter: a few weeks after russ was acquitted once and for all, we joined him and his friends for game night. together again, for good now. >> i got a ultra-marine scout. >> reporter: russ's game night buddies vowed at the second trial just as they had at the first one that russ was with them when betsy was murdered. this was the alibi the prosecutor wouldn't believe. in fact, one of the friends revealed here that officers leaned on him, unpleasantly. >> did you feel threatened by them? >> absolutely. >> reporter: before the second trial. >> trying to get you to flip on russ? >> basically yeah. and they're like, well, i want you to look at this. and then he opens up the book and shows me the photos of the crime scene and, you know, she's laying there. i said, i don't want to see those. i said i can't handle blood and guts stuff. and that's when they come in with trying to offer me immunity. i'm like, immunity for what? why would i need immunity? i didn't do anything. we all didn't do anything.
>> reporter: but now this strangest of cases was finally over and russ faria could contemplate some kind of life again. though for now, not with his stepdaughters who defend -- testified against him. their lawsuit against pam hupp over the insurance money continues. >> the only thing that i'm planning on doing is moving forward, you know. i could dwell on the past and be miserable for the rest of my life. dwell on what happened to me and dwell on my wife's death and dwell on the fact that i was locked up and made to go through all of this. and i'll be miserable forever. or i can choose to look forward and make my own future. >> what would she think of all of this? >> she'd be very disappointed in a lot of people. >> reporter: she, meaning, of course, betsy. >> let me see your hand. still wear your wedding ring. >> yeah. i still care about
i think about her every day. i'll be doing something and it'll bring up a memory and, oh, betsy used to love this. she's still alive in my heart. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we'll see you again sunday 7:00, 6:00 central. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, good a local man who suffered severe brain damage and lost his eye-sight after a car-wreck --now dealing with the loss of his service dog. plus.. an area college student developing a bulletproof insert for your backpack -- as a part of a school project. and.. construction is underway for a local business expanding into the historic wonder bread building